Guest Blogger – Andrew von Zuben

It is true that each of us considers the meaning of life. For some, it is simple introspection. For others, a lifelong quest.

Underlying our desire for meaning is something ancient. Something instinctual. The foundation upon which we create meaning and purpose in our daily lives. In this technological age meaning begs for purpose. But it is survival that drives us to continue being. It is survival that must be our meaning and purpose.

Living comfortable lives in the developed world, we have lost the passion that witnesses survival. Ours is virtually assured. Drive and focus are turned towards gathering wealth, and survival is marginalized into varying degrees of separation. Yet, the fragility of our eminent survival remains.

There are many dynamics eroding the future of our survival. Most insidious of all is the complacency that has deprived us of the ingenuity of our ancestors. We may lose what we need to continue surviving.

So you believe that the system is stable and that government will ensure the perpetuation of our society as we know it. You believe continuing economic growth will reward us and bring the developing world out of poverty. And so faith supports us.

Thus far, we have ignored the signs of warning. How great of a calamity do we need to awake us from a stupor of prosperity?

What if there is no defining moment of change? A gradual descent into oblivion.

Not with a bang but a whimper

Survival as an individual is a relatively simple matter of superiority. Survival as a species is a momentous obligation that we owe to the depths of our very Being. Transcending the need of the individual is the selfless action required to achieve generations. To fulfill the need to survive.

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs helps us understand how to most efficiently order our priorities. Water, food, and shelter. Our most primal requirements must be met first, without which we will perish. These are needs most readily met in this society. Highly organized, bureaucratically and politically controlled. Such a large scale that the individual recedes from relevance. Each of us may ask what role we assume in contributing to civilized life. So many will discover that their hard work drives the lesser needs that have taken prominence in a well heeled lifestyle.

There are many risks associated with becoming disenfranchised from our own survival. Among them is the risk that the great organization will fail in the face of a change too rapid to which to adapt.

The greater is the risk that we will lose that which fulfills us most profoundly. The risk that we will fail to complete our selves in this life.

The risk that we will forget what it means to survive.

With my family, I am challenging a lifestyle that will engage us in the basic skills that humans need in order to survive in a civil and sustainable way. In some cases it is a matter of looking to our ancestry for forgotten arts and holding on to knowledge that has borne us through millennia. In other ways we will strive for new ingenuity looking forward, nurturing an innate adaptability.

I will share some of our experiences in the hope that we may inspire you to choose a life that provides greater self-actualization. And there is nothing more inspiring than the stewardship of your own survival.



 Andrew lives on 25 acres just outside of Gooderham, Ontario with his wife Kira and their 3 children; Auren 4, Fern 2, and Meer 1 month.  They started with an un-winterized cottage and have begun  construction  of their family farm and educational center amidst the trees.  They keep company with 50-odd chickens and recently raised 6 pigs who graciously cleared some land and will feed many families this winter.  If you would like to contact him directly you may do so at avonzuben{at}gmail{dot}com.  This article was first published in the Gooderham Newsletter.

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  1. Posted December 14, 2011 at 3:21 pm by Amanda | Permalink

    Just a question, will Andrew be guest blogging about his experiences on your blog or will he be setting up his own site? I thought it was an interesting post.

    • Posted December 14, 2011 at 4:28 pm by erin | Permalink

      For now I think his plan is to do some guest blogs here and writing for our local newsletter, but he may start a blog of his own. If that happens I will be sure to share the link.
      Glad you enjoyed his writing and thoughts.

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